Where the Watermelons Grow

by Cindy Baldwin

 

Where the Watermelons Grow deals with a tough subject that isn’t really out there much for middle grade and upper elementary grade readers mental illness. This book is heavy and can be too much for some readers, so you might want to read it before you hand it to your reader if you think it might a trigger. I really think readers ages middle grade through adult will enjoy this heart breaking book that really touched and has stayed with me. I just wanted to go into the book and give Della a huge hug. She is such a sweet strong girl who is facing so much in her life. I think this is one of those books that could help kids that are dealing with tough situations at home. They could see that they are not the only one’s that are dealing with these issues or similar ones. I know some are saying it could be for as young at 3rd grade but I really think for me at least this is an upper elementary and above. The story is well written, the characters are fully developed and the story is one that will touch every reader. I couldn’t believe this was a debut novel from the author. I can’t wait to see what Cindy Baldwin writes next.  Grab this book from your local library or book store and read a wonderful book this summer!

About the book: When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again—that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be hospitalized for months like she was last time.

With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial about what’s happening, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations.

But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must learn that love means accepting her mama just as she is.

Thank you HarperCollins and Cindy Baldwin for allowing me to read Where the Watermelons Grow. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

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The Museum of Us

by Tara Wilson Redd

 

 

I just couldn’t connect with this book and set it aside for another time. I will give it a second read but for now it just wasn’t holding my attention. Looking on Goodreads before I posted this showed that it has a lot of mixed reviews so I guess I’m not the only one on the fence for this one. Grab a copy from your library and give it a try you might like it.

Trigger Warnings: Mental Illness and Cutting

 

About the book:  Sadie loves her rocker boyfriend Henry and her running partner and best friend Lucie, but no one can measure up to her truest love and hero, the dazzling and passionate George. George, her secret.
When something goes wrong and Sadie is taken to the hospital calling out for George, her hidden life may be exposed. Now she must confront the truth of the past, and protect a world she is terrified to lose.

Thank you Wendy Lamb books and Random House for sending me a copy of The Museum of Us. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

We’ll Fly Away

by Bryan Bliss

 

I’m broken this book is so heartbreaking but a must read. I knew when I read the description this one going to be an emotional roller coaster ride but sometimes you need to read those hard-hitting books. You learn from them, grow as a reader and those characters are the ones that touch you and stay with you long after you finish the book. The author doesn’t hold back anything in this book. It deals with child abuse, poverty, justice system, friendships and so much more. This isn’t a book that you would say oh my gosh I loved it and will read it again and again. It is a very emotional book one that will never leave you after your finished. Would I recommend this to other readers: Absolutely!!! Do I think it would be a good book to read in a high school English , current events or sociology class: Absolutely!!! We’ll Fly Away needs to be read. It explores so much that goes on in day to day society that is often overlooked because it’s messy and not Instagram perfect. This book is raw and there will be tears shed. I loved reading the letters that Luke writes Toby on death row. Luke and Toby are best friends and they know everything that is going on in each other’s lives. They are there for each other and know what their home lives are really like. These two have each others back through the anger and abuse and neglect they get at home. They depend on each other and then one rash in the moment act can destroy all they are working towards.

I really hope everyone gets a chance to pick this book up and read it. The only things I might change was maybe not make the abuse and neglect in a poverty-stricken household. I really wish that he hadn’t classified it as anything let the reader decide. They are often portrayed as angry and abusive in books. When I was in high school I was friends with a boy who was abused at home till he finally told someone. Guess what: they were one of the richest families at our school. Money doesn’t mean anything people are people and abuse and neglect happens in all income ranges. I think I understand why he did it in that income range to show that they had to struggle and they couldn’t just buy their way out of their situation and life.  Either way it didn’t take away from my reading. I would rate this a 5 star book it’s heartbreaking but you will connect with Luke and Toby but don’t forget to grab some Kleenex’s. They should have a deal where you get a box of Kleenex’s free when you buy this book – since your going to need them!  I would say this is a YA book there are heavy topics and not for a middle grade reader unless you read it first and decide if it is okay for your middle grade reader.

About the book: Uniquely told through letters from death row and third-person narrative, Bryan Bliss’s hard-hitting third novel expertly unravels the string of events that landed a teenager in jail. Luke feels like he’s been looking after Toby his entire life. He patches Toby up when Toby’s father, a drunk and a petty criminal, beats on him, he gives him a place to stay, and he diffuses the situation at school when wise-cracking Toby inevitably gets into fights. Someday, Luke and Toby will leave this small town, riding the tails of Luke’s wrestling scholarship, and never look back.

But during their senior year, they begin to drift apart. Luke is dealing with his unreliable mother and her new boyfriend. And Toby unwittingly begins to get drawn into his father’s world, and falls for an older woman. All their long-held dreams seem to be unraveling. Tense and emotional, this heartbreaking novel explores family, abuse, sex, love, friendship, and the lengths a person will go to protect the people they love. For fans of NPR’s Serial podcast, Jason Reynolds, and Matt de la Peña.

Thank you so much Greenwillow Books and Harper Collins Children for sending me a copy of We’ll Fly Away.  All thoughts and opinions are mine and not influenced by the free book.

The Midnights

by Sarah Nicole Smetana

 

For me The Midnights was good and enjoyable. The cover is eye catching and makes you want to pick that book up at the bookstore or library.  I think high school teen me would have eaten this book up and loved every moment of it. Mom me was just wanting to step in and tell her stop doing some of her risky behavior stuff. It is full of family, hope, loss, grief and finding yourself again, and music. If you are not a big music lover or listener than this might not be the book for you. Susannah and her dad share a bond through the music he creates in the garage studio. She feels close to him and loves being a part of his world, even though sometimes he is so wrapped up into his own world he doesn’t even notice he has a family. The unthinkable happens and her whole live is turned upside down and she is going to have to find who Susannah is again. The Midnights is full of teen angst and learning and growing. Would I suggest this to YA readers? Absolutely, I will caution that this book is very YA and not for middle grade readers like some YA books. The book contains more adult situations that younger YA readers don’t need to read about just yet. Having said that I think that being a bit more adult YA makes this a great book for an adult who maybe wants to give YA a try but not wanting a younger feeling book. This book is perfect for John Green and/or Sarah Dessen fans. The Midnights would be a great book to read over spring or summer break, and I hope you like it. I can’t wait to see what the author writes next.

About the book: Susannah Hayes has never been in the spotlight, but she dreams of following her father, a former rock star, onto the stage. As senior year begins, she’s more interested in composing impressive chord progressions than college essays, certain that if she writes the perfect song, her father might finally look up from the past long enough to see her. But when he dies unexpectedly her dreams—and her reality—shatter.

While Susannah struggles with grief, her mother uproots them to a new city. There, Susannah realizes she can reinvent herself however she wants: a confident singer-songwriter, member of a hip band, embraced by an effortlessly cool best friend. But Susannah is not the only one keeping secrets, and soon, harsh revelations threaten to unravel her life once again.

Thank you Booksparks and HarperTeen for allowing me to read The Midnights. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Strong Inside: The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line

Young Reader’s Edition

by Andrew Maraniss

 

So many times it’s hard to get non fiction books into the hands of young readers. I know many love non fiction – my middle grade reader really only likes non fiction. So many though don’t, but that is changing thanks to Young Reader’s Edition books. They take a popular adult non fiction and give a detailed but condensed version of the book with younger reader’s in mind. My middle grader reader and I have read many Young Reader’s Editions and have enjoyed them so much we’ve seeked out the adult book as well .

Strong Inside The True Story of How Perry Wallace Broke College Basketball’s Color Line follows Perry Wallace through out his young school days through his college years. This book is a sport biography but also a historical biography as well. He grew up in an era that was full of racism and people who didn’t want to see him succeed. He didn’t let them hold him back. He had a dream, the talent and the strength and character that took all the way! There is some tough language in here. The author has a note in the beginning saying to whitewash the language would be a disservice and I agree. We need to read about this time in history, we can not forget or go back to that era. If generations going up know don’t know about it history repeats itself. Perry Wallace is one I hope many kids will read about and look up to. He would be an excellent role model that I used his good heart, brains and talent and made something of himself. It wasn’t handed to him on a silver platter. He had to work 10 times harder than most high school and college players but he didn’t let that stop him.  He was not only talent on the basket ball court but he was also very well-known in the courthouse as well. He became a trial attorney and worked with environmental law. He was appointed Environmental Policy Advisory Council by the EPA but also a professor at American University Washington College of Law. I enjoyed this book very much and was quite surprised I’m not a sports gal but he was such an inspiring man! If you have a sports minded boy reader, reluctant reader or a non fiction book-worm hand them a copy of Strong Inside. Don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t stay on your bookshelves much. I have a filling this will be a very popular book choice for upper elementary, middle grade and high school readers.

About the book: The inspirational true story of the first African-American to play college basketball in the deeply segregated Southeastern Conference–a powerful moment in Black history.

Perry Wallace was born at a historic crossroads in U.S. history. He entered kindergarten the year that the Brown v. Board of Education decision led to integrated schools, allowing blacks and whites to learn side by side. A week after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech, Wallace enrolled in high school and his sensational jumping, dunking, and rebounding abilities quickly earned him the attention of college basketball recruiters from top schools across the nation. In his senior year his Pearl High School basketball team won Tennessee’s first racially integrated state tournament.

The world seemed to be opening up at just the right time, and when Vanderbilt University recruited Wallace to play basketball, he courageously accepted the assignment to desegregate the Southeastern Conference. The hateful experiences he would endure on campus and in the hostile gymnasiums of the Deep South turned out to be the stuff of nightmares. Yet Wallace persisted, endured, and met this unthinkable challenge head on. This insightful biography digs deep beneath the surface to reveal a complicated, profound, and inspiring story of an athlete turned civil rights trailblazer.

Thank you Puffin books for sending me a copy of Strong Inside. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Layover

by Amy Andelson and Emily Meyer

 

 

Layover was an OK I liked it and it reminded me alot of a chick lit book for YA genre. I had issues with it as a mom that just bugged me. However even my teen had some of the same issues. First off it has these kids just up and throwing away their phones with very little contact with their parents. They are just supposed to accept that their kids are going to not show up to Christmas vacation because they are getting a divorce. The kids hang with a friend, steal his credit card and car and have a grand old-time at Disney Land, and in the end really face no real punishment. I ended up giving it 3 stars because it was bubble gum book as I would call it. The story was well written but I just couldn’t connect with the characters. My teen gave it a little higher 3 stars but said if I pulled the crap they did I would be have been grounded for life. 🙂 Yes you would so remember that.

About the Book: One missed flight was about to change their lives forever….

Flynn: At first we were almost strangers. But ever since I moved to New York, Amos was the one person I could count on. And together we were there for Poppy. (I mean, what kind of parents leave their kid to be raised by a nanny?) I just didn’t expect to fall for him—and I never expected him to leave us.

Amos: I thought I was the only one who felt it. I told myself it was because we were spending so much time together—taking care of Poppy and all. But that night, I could tell she felt it, too. And I freaked out—you’re not supposed to fall for your stepsister. So I ran away to boarding school. I should have told her why I was leaving, but every time I tried, it felt like a lie.

Thank you Crown Book for Young Readers for sending me Layover. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.

Land of Permanent Goodbyes

by Atia Abawi

 

How do I begin to describe the incredible journey this book will take you on. It is heart wrenching  raw story. It doesn’t hold back any punches the author describes the horrors of war, living in a constant state of violence while trying to stay alive. Tareq is just a normal teenage boy living a life that no teenager or anyone wants to live. He lives in Syria where he has seen bombings, lost friends, seen his beloved city torn apart literally and figuratively. He still has his family: mom, dad, younger brother, little sister and twin baby siblings and grandma lives with them as well. All that changes in the blink of an eye when bombs are dropped on their apartment complex. Dad was at work and rushes home to find the devastation. The dad decides it’s time to leave and head to Europe while the family he has still can. Part one is graphic and very raw. He witness’s an execution and beheading. I had a hard time reading it, I had to put it down at times. It made me mad, sad, uncomfortable but I should feel all those emotions. If I didn’t I’d be very worried about me. No one should have to witness that. I kept picking it up because I was wrapped up in the story and I had to know what happened to Tareq. I wanted to make sure him and his family made it to safety. Part two of the book enters a new cast of characters. Some are aid workers and you get a backstory for one in particular. She went to Greece for a vacation but got so moved by the refugee’s that she put college on hold and joined an organization that helped the refugees once they made is safely to shore. Alexia is a very likable girl with a heart of gold. You also get to meet two girls from Najib and Jamila they are escaping Afghanistan. They are all that they have left of their family. They are trying to make it Germany to live with an aunt. They become fast friends with Tareq and his younger sister Susan. Maybe all hope isn’t lost, they forge a friendship and maybe even can fall in love during all the despair they are experiencing.  The romance was nothing so don’t worry this isn’t a YA romance novel. This is a refugee story like none I’ve read in the YA genre. I know this story will stay with me. I can’t get Tareq, Susan, Najib, and Jamila out of my head. This author is new to me and she has written another book called The Secret Sky that I’ll be checking out. This is YA, usually most YA can be for a middle grade. It is graphic and a very real raw story so if your middle grade reader wants to read this I’d read it first. I’d give this to a 9th grade and up no problems. This would be a book I think everyone should read at some point. The author gives a very realistic peek inside the life of a refugee and what they go through to survive and find a place they can call home after losing everything near and dear to them.

About the Book:  Narrated by Destiny, this heartbreaking — and timely — story of refugees escaping from war-torn Syria is masterfully told by a foreign news correspondent who experienced the crisis firsthand.

In a country ripped apart by war, Tareq lives with his big and loving family . . . until the bombs strike. His city is in ruins. His life is destroyed. And those who have survived are left to figure out their uncertain future.

In the wake of destruction, he’s threatened by Daesh fighters and witnesses a public beheading. Tareq’s family knows that to continue to stay alive, they must leave. As they travel as refugees from Syria to Turkey to Greece, facing danger at every turn, Tareq must find the resilience and courage to complete his harrowing journey.

But while this is one family’s story, it is also the timeless tale of all wars, of all tragedy, and of all strife. When you are a refugee, success is outliving your loss. Destiny narrates this heartbreaking story of the consequences of war, showing the Syrian conflict as part of a long chain of struggles spanning through time.

 

About the Author:

 Atia Abawi is a foreign news correspondent who was stationed for almost five years in Kabul, Afghanistan. She was born to Afghan parents in West Germany and was raised in the United States. Her first book for teens was the powerful Secret Sky, about forbidden romance between different ethnic tribes. She currently lives in Jerusalem with her husband, Conor Powell, and their son, Arian, where she covers stories unfolding in the middle east and the surrounding areas.

 

Thank you so much Penguin Teen for sending me a copy of A Land of Permanent Goodbyes for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and not influenced by the free book.